The Importance of Financial Responsibility: Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists
Many employees drive company vehicles either to and from work or for specific company related tasks. Wrongful death claims can be brought against a driver’s employer if the negligent act of the employee occurred in the scope of employment. For this reason, it is vital in every wrongful death case to have only a wrongful death attorney investigate whether the negligent driver was in the scope of employment.
Employer Liability for Employee Actions
2000 years ago, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, coined an adage that for millennium medical doctors have adhered to: “First, do no harm.” By overwhelming numbers, most individuals called to medicine have a deep desire to comfort, help and heal.
The good news is that restraints in motor vehicles have become optimized so people have a lesser incidence of upper body damage. Little attention has been paid to lower extremity injuries, however, in part because they do not cause mortality in general and they carry low injury scores. They do, though, cause a great deal of disability in those who suffer them. Not only is there a great psychological burden from lower extremity injuries but there is a longstanding possible disability. Other, unrelated injuries and factors like depression influence how the patient does long term.
A patient can sustain a foot injury from slamming the foot into the seat or footboard ahead of them. Foot injuries may or may not need to be casted but certainly they impair the ability of the patient to get around. It can mean days or weeks off the job until the individual can bear weight. Fortunately there are few long term disabilities from foot fractures.
Maxillofacial and cranial trauma are common phenomena in severe motor vehicle accidents or falls from great height. There is a large variety of traumas that can happen, from facial fractures, cranial fractures and fractures that extend from the cranium to the facial bones, called cranio-maxillofacial fractures. One study looked through a large computerized database to see which kinds of injuries were seen under which conditions of injury. They looked at a period of 10 years from 1991-2000 and found 9,500 patients who were admitted to the hospital following cranio-maxillofacial injuries. They were all treated at the University of Innsbruck hospital.
Doctors and researchers looked at the cause of the injury, the gender and age of the patient, the mechanism and type of injury, the presence of soft tissue trauma in the patient and the presence of dentoalveolar trauma, facial fractures and nonfacial injuries.
Water sports are becoming more popular around the world. People are spending more time racing boats, water skiing, scuba diving and skin diving. Injuries because of boat propellers are also becoming more frequent. One study looked at the ten year period from 1963-1973 and studied nine cases of injury by boat propeller. Some resulted in an amputation as a result of the propeller itself. Others needed surgical amputation due to mangled extremities.
Injuries on boats are not simply a national occurrence. The below examples are listed not for shock value but to illustrate the need to use caution when on or near boats. These were recent news items from 2012 and 2013 illustrating the mechanism of injury due to water sports and/or while on a watercraft.
Children have a higher likelihood of being injured or killed from trains than adults. They like to play on train tracks and have a lesser ability to detect the speed of a train coming towards them. Their bodies are more frail than adult bodies and the forces on the bodies from the train are great.
One study looked at the pattern of sustained injuries in kids who are injured in train tracks and train accidents. It was a retrospective review of those patients who showed up on two different trauma registries for the years 1984 through 1994. The patients attended a level I trauma center in a single metropolitan area. A total of 17 patients were treated for injuries at the level I trauma center. Those who were injured in a car that was struck by a train and those that were pronounced deceased at the scene were excluded from the study.
Approximately every 115 minutes, someone or something is struck by a train; almost 50 % of all collisions happen at railroad crossings when the automatic warning lights and automatic warning gates are working correctly. The big problem is that people think that even if their car gets stuck on the tracks, the train will be able to stop. In reality, a 150-car train going at fifty miles per hour will need at least a mile to stop.
The fact of the matter is that a car weighs only about 3000 pounds and it must come up against a several hundred ton train. The car almost always loses. These types of accidents cause about 600 deaths per year and injure about 2300 people per year in the US. About 75 percent of automobile/train crashes involve the train hitting the car in the daytime. At night, half of the collisions happen when the car does not see the train at a poorly lit intersection and strikes the train.
Traumatic hemipelvectomies are rare traumatic injuries with a forty percent mortality rate. It happens when half of the pelvis from the pubic symphysis to the sacroiliac joint is pulled away from the rest of the body in an open or closed injury. Because this is a situation that often results in death, it is important for the trauma team to do angiography to assess the circulation to the area, x-rays to determine the extent of the fracture and possibly a CT scan of the pelvis to determine what the injury looks like in three dimensions. Only aggressive surgical treatment can save the person’s life.
Because prehospital care has gotten so good, more and more people are arriving to the trauma centers alive rather than dead. This is a very unstable fracture with ligamentous injury and bony injury with external bleeding in some cases. The pelvic neurovascular bundle is usually destroyed, affecting sensation to the affected, partially-amputated leg.